Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Capture One V4 Beta2 Released

The Second Beta of Capture One 4 has just been released. My first impressions are that they have fixed quite a few of the obvious bugs, the controls seem more usable and it's relatively stable.

From the release notes:

What’s new from beta 1
This is a non-exhaustive list of issues we have solved with beta 2:
  • Viewer adjustable background (Windows only)
  • Importer (new on Windows)
  • Improved, brighter and larger icons
  • Better file management (drag and drop, rename, delete)
  • More room for sliders (min max labels have been removed)
Capture One 4 beta 2 now runs on Windows Vista 64-bit edition and on Mac OS X

I processed this last night:

(Click to view large)

And everything seemed to go swimmingly. Why not download it and have a play.
Please Note though this beta will not run on AMD XP processors.

In a separate announcement Capture One have signed a strategic agreement with Microsoft. Hopefully this should mean better integration of iView and C1 as part of an attempt to take on Lightoom and Aperture.

Monday, 29 October 2007

Forest Frolics

Well yesterday was the day of the 4th Annual Ephotozine Epping Forest trip. Considering that the trip is always held on the first day of British Winter Time, over the years we have been very fortunate with the weather. This year our luck wasn't so good as it was a decidedly damp day though the heavy rain held off for a while.

I was hopping that as the trees had started to turn that people would be able to get some shots of the foliage like this:

Autumn in Epping Forest
(Click to view Large)

But the wind made that a bit tricky.

A popular subject on the meet is the various forms of fungus that can be found in the forest. This year the fungus was thin on the ground and took some finding but most people got some shots. Though Nick Brandon had a rather interesting experience:

Things started off well, found a few decent fungi to photograph early on, great.

Had a little wander, further afield and found some more, got too engrossed and lost everyone.

After 3 1/2 hours I went towards a branch upon which I could see some porcelain fungus growing......

Next thing I know, I'm waist deep in foul smelling mud and sinking deeper every time I move.
Managed to claw my way out minus two wellies, heart was going like a steam train by this time.
I found a log that I could carry and put it where I thought my wellies were and after 20 minutes had managed to dig my wellies out !!!!!

After this mishap I looked back to where I had walked, no sign of a bog, just a carpet of golden leaves.

Moral of this story, BE VERY CAREFUL IN THE WOODS.......

Sorry Nick!

The meet ended with a few jars in a local ale house which gave us all a chance to warm up and chat. I don't normally take many shots on the meet as I enjoy myself chatting to the other photographers too much. I did manage to get this picture of some puffballs. For those of you who are interested in the technical details : 300mm f/4 & 1.4 extender - 30Seconds @ f/45..with 10 bursts of flash.

(Click to view large)

All in all an enjoyable day, despite the weather.

Thursday, 25 October 2007


Hampshire police thought it would be a good idea to advertise on the rear of a bus. Their planning did not take into account the position of the exhaust pipe.....

Click to view Large
Photographer unknown

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Recommended Kit - The Gepe Card Safe

Occasionally you come across a bit of kit that is brilliantly simple yet works perfectly. The Grepe Card Safe is just such a thing.It is really nothing special, just a plastic box to put your memory cards in, but the manufacturers have actually thought about how people will use it.

If you use the "face up = empty, face down = full" method of organizing your cards then it's little windows that allow you to see the cards are rather useful; no need to open the case to see what it contains.

More importantly they are pretty shockproof, waterproof and they float. This came as an absolute relief to me when shooting at West Burton Waterfall, clambering about on the rocks I looked down in to the stream and saw my cardsafe slowly floating down the stream! Luckily I managed to grab it before it disappeared out of site, over the lower falls and out to sea. The cards inside were completely safe and dry..marvellous.

Highly recommended for the disaster-prone outdoor photographer.

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Fun in the Forest

If you are in the London area and have Sunday free then why not join us for The Ephotozine Epping Forest meet. I have been running the meet for the last four years and it's always been good fun. Groups of photographers spend the day spread out through the forest getting up lose and personal with some fungus and ferns.

A Drop in the Forest
(Click to view large)

As part of the preparation on Saturday morning I tried out an alternative location in the forest with Clive Burrow. I knew it would be a good morning as a shoot with Clive is always a pleasure.

Here is Clive's shot of me taking the above picture (blooming paparazzi you can't get away from them!).

Monday, 22 October 2007

The Friday Project - Another Update

Autumn in the City (Southwark Cathedral)

Being a successful blogger is all about giving your readers what they want. Hardly a day goes by with out an email arriving asking how my Friday Project is going. So for all of you who need to know here is an update.

Wood and Glass (Near City Hall)

I'm no longer heading out into the city on my own as I am now often joined by my friend Steve. Steve is new to photography and it's great to go shooting with someone for whom it's all new. Also Steve is a security guard magnet so whilst he is explaining to the security guard that he is not a professional/terrorist/pervert I can get on with the business of taking pictures.

Ropework (St.Katherines Dock)

The exercise of creating images in harsh lighting with limited time is still very stretching and pushes my creativity much further than turning up somewhere that is very photogenic and having all day to shoot it.

Instrumental (Royal Festival Hall)

Related Posts
Life Round Lloyds
A New Years Resolution
In the City
The Friday Project Update

Friday, 19 October 2007

Starving a dog to death for "Art"

[[off-topic alert]]

A Costa Rican "artist" has captured a street dog then tied it up and allowed it to starve to death in the name of art. The full story can be found here.

[[rant alert]]
For a while now "conceptual" art has been the big thing in the art world. The trouble is most of the "concepts" on show are banal in the extreme, so artist move towards shock as a way to provoke a reaction. I am sure that the art intelligentsia are already moving to defend this "work" as provocative, ground-breaking or some other load of old tosh. It seems to be in their interests to push the idea that it's really just that detractors don't understand the art and if you were as clever and educated as they are you would understand and appreciate it. This smacks of the Emperors New Clothes to me.

On his blog the Artist/Animal-abuser points out that the dog was sick and would have died sooner or later anyway. Well wouldn't we all! It's the bit between birth and death that makes the difference. We all have the capacity to act as devils or angels and it's the choices we make that are important. But of course offering comfort, medical care and food to a dying animal wouldn't have given him the column inches he craves.

Apparently the abuser asked that people did not feed the dog or give it water and the visitors to his exhibition complied. Their appreciation of "art" apparently out-weighed any humanity they had. This art diminishes the humanity of all those who come into contact with it - how can that be of benefit to anyone?

The apologists will make claims that we shouldn't interfere with the artists vision...what complete b*****ks. If the artists vision had been to nail poor/sick children to the wall of his gallery - would we allow that? after all they were going to die any way.

The final thing you hear trotted out is that the important thing is that the art "provoked a reaction". Well whoopy-dee, provoking a reaction is easy - if you don't believe me next time you are in work, take a dump on your boss's desk!

As far as I am concerned there is no justification for this sort of abuse as art and I sincerely hope that Guillermo Vargas starves to death sometime soon.
[[\rant alert]]

I have not linked directly to Guillermo Varga as hell would freeze over before I help someone like that improve their pagerank.
[[\off-topic alert]]

Related Posts
Puppy Farms
14 Months On

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Public Photography and the Law

Chapter Thirteen is becoming a real "must read" site for any UK photographer (that's why it is up there on the top left under recommended blogs). David Toyne is producing a set of articles on the legal aspects of photography and like everything David does it is well crafted and extensively researched.

Part 1 deals with Covert Photography

Part 2 deals with Stop and Search

both are very illuminating and go a long way to dispel some of the myths surrounding the law in the UK. I'm looking forward to reading a few more in the series.

Was it legal for me to take this picture - read the articles to find out.

On the same subject there is a pdf guide to UK photographers rights available here though it is now three years old so some of the information may be out of date.

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Mounting and Finishing Photographs - Part 7 (Conclusion or Why Bother?)

So now you know what's involved in mount cutting, framing & generally presenting my prints for sale. If you are thinking of doing something similar, it is important to ask yourself if it is worth doing; You can buy ready cut mounts cheaply off the internet and there are plenty of picture framers out there needing the work.

The choices come down to the following:-

Get someone else to do it all
Outsourcing your framing/mounting to a trusted local supplier is a very attractive option. The advantages are you should always get a professional job, you don't have to invest in training and equipment upfront and of course you don't have to spend time framing when you could be out taking pictures.

The disadvantage is that the cost per picture will be more and the lead-times may become a problem if you have found yourself a good framer who is consiquently rather busy.

Do some of it yourself
It's possible to buy ready-cut mounts off the internet or from a framer and assemble the frames yourself. The advantages are that you save yourself the purchase of a mount cutter and holding stocks of mountboard.
This needs to be played against a lack of flexibility that may be required for more odd-shaped mounts. Again lead times may be unacceptable and you don't want your exhibition delayed by a post strike. You will still need to put the image together frame & wrap the image yourself so you are not saving a huge amount of work.

Bluebell Stripes ~ A panoramic shot which requires special mounting & framing
(Click to view large)

Do it yourself
The start-up costs and initial investment in time for the DIY approach can be onerous at first, but when you have got past these they offer a flexibility that is extremely useful. Streamlining the process, means that for me waiting for the print to come off the printer is the biggest time lag in my processes - framing and mounting have a relatively low amount of my time devoted to them.

In addition, mount cutting is a useful skill in it's own right and as you become involved in producing finished prints you gain an insight in to framing & presentation that is difficult to acquire otherwise.

That's All Folks.
I hope you have found these blogs on framing & presentation useful. If you have, or you would like to know more, please leave a comment. I love reading the feedback I get on this blog.

Other posts in this series (Mounting and Finishing Photographs)
Part 1 - Introduction
Part 2 - Preparation
Part 3 - Mount Cutting
Part 4 - Final Assembly
Part 5 - Framing
Part 6 - Equipment
Part 7 - Conclusion

Monday, 15 October 2007

Mounting and Finishing Photographs - Part 6 (Equipment)

Tools for the job: Mat cutter with extension arm, angled cutters for the window, straight cutters for mountboard and foamboard, pencil, duster (this gets used a lot), cutting mat to prevent damage to table when putting down tools , Framers tape in dispenser, ATG tape gun, good quality light source (anglepoise lamp) - all on a table big enough to take a sheet of mountboard.

I have had a few questions about the equipment and suppliers I use so here are a few details for you. If you need to know anything else..just ask.

For cutting mounts I use a mat master 860 - from FrameCo. The squaring arm (I added the extended one a while back) makes cutting backing boards and mats to size a doddle. Frameco give great customer service: my first cutter developed a fault (well out of warranty) , I phoned them up and they were happy to send me a replacement.

For sticking the mat to the backing board then its a very good idea to use an ATG Tape Gun, so much easier and quicker than using double sided tape.

For embossing the limited edition certificates, I use a stamp from oyez which is individual engraved with my company name & "Limited Edition". I was really impressed when this was delivered less than 24 hours after I ordered it.

I buy all my framing Supplies (mountboard, foamboard, blades, tapes, wire,etc) in bulk from Lion.

Other posts in this series (Mounting and Finishing Photographs)
Part 1 - Introduction
Part 2 - Preparation
Part 3 - Mount Cutting
Part 4 - Final Assembly
Part 5 - Framing
Part 6 - Equipment
Part 7 - Conclusion

Friday, 12 October 2007

Mounting and Finishing Photographs - Part 5 (Framing & Wrapping)

For exhibitions I buy my frames in bulk from lecira. I find that a wall of pictures that are all framed and mounted in a similar way, looks much more cohesive than lots of different mounts/frames and concentrates the eye on the images, not the presentation.

In addition I find a high percentage of images I sell at exhibition are framed, but sales are not evenly distributed, one image might sell lots of pictures, yet others won't sell at all. If I could work out which ones would sell at each exhibition I'd be a happy man! Being able to reuse the frames to meet orders is a godsend and saves keeping loads of extra frames in storage between exhibitions.

My Framed Pictures on Exhibition
(Click to wander round the virtual exhibition)

To frame a photo, the picture is dropped in to the frame and the back held in place with flexipoints. The frame is then turned over and checked for dust and hairs. Once I am finally satisfied that everything is clean then I add the hanging equipment (hooks & wire). I use flat D rings that slip on to the backingboard and Super Softstrand wire for hanging as it is very easy to work with and gentle on the fingers! The back of the frame is sealed up with framers tape to prevent dust getting in the frame. Finally the certificate of Authenticity is fixed to the back of the frame.

All frames are then finally checked and wrapped in bubble wrap to prevent damage during transport & storage.

Mounted pictures are wrapped with clear polythene wrap to protect them and this stuck together with 3M crystal tape and makes for a very attractive package. I intend in future to use clear plastic bags but am at the moment unable to find a supplier who will do them in the sizes I need.

Other posts in this series (Mounting and Finishing Photographs)
Part 1 - Introduction
Part 2 - Preparation
Part 3 - Mount Cutting
Part 4 - Final Assembly
Part 5 - Framing
Part 6 - Equipment
Part 7 - Conclusion

Thursday, 11 October 2007

Mounting and Finishing Photographs - Part 4 (Final Assembly)

Final Assembly
The final package is a sandwich of foamboard, photograph, and windowed mountboard. To produce this first the photograph is hinged off the backing board with two small pieces of tape.

Print hinged of the backing board

Then the mount is sandwiched to the foam board using ATG (Adhesive Transfer Gun) tape (ATG is basically double sided sticky tape dispensed from a gun). The hinging allows for expansion and contraction of the paper due to atmospheric conditions. The ATG tape holds the whole thing together into a solid package.

The completed sandwich

Each print is signed & numbered and the details entered into my Limited Edition management system: Lemon
A Signed Print!

I use lemon to generate a certificate of ownership which is embossed by a limited edition seal, signed and then taped to back of the picture

Certificate of Authenticity

Other posts in this series (Mounting and Finishing Photographs)
Part 1 - Introduction
Part 2 - Preparation
Part 3 - Mount Cutting
Part 4 - Final Assembly
Part 5 - Framing
Part 6 - Equipment
Part 7 - Conclusion

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Mounting and Finishing Photographs - Part 3 (Mount Cutting)

Mount cutting

First I need to calculate the size of the window I will cut in the mat, a useful aid for this is Mat Works! - which is a great little free program for sizing mounts. In fact it's so good I even paid for it!

MatMaster System 860B - my weapon of choice

As I have all my boards cut to size, cutting the mount it is simply a matter of cutting the window for each image in the board, and I frequently break this process down into marking out & cutting - so that I mark up a batch of boards then cut them all which saves changing from pencil to cutter each time. Breaking the processes out into steps and performing each step on an entire batch is quicker and more accurate than cutting the mat to size, then cutting the window for each one individually and having to resetting the mount cutter and tools each time.

Learning to cut mounts

I taught myself to use a mount cutter following the manual. I went through a lot of mount board at first, though its one of those things that once you've got the hang of you can't see how you ever managed to have difficulty with it in the first place.

For cutting a single mount it is just a page of instructions and not too difficult. Though I would think a course would get you up to speed a lot quicker and would take you through the whole process of matting a print. I learnt a lot of things the hard way..making sure everything is exactly aligned, keeping your work area scrupulously clean, etc,etc,

How to cut a mat (pdf)
How to cut a mat (video)

Mount cutting tips
  • Always make sure your work area and hands are completely clean, any dust will transfer onto the boards and leave mucky fingerprints.
  • It's always a good idea to mark out your window in pencil first, then offer it up to your image to make sure you have the right sizes..measure twice, cut once.
  • Only work on the back of the mountboard.
  • When using non-textured white faced board it is easy to accidentally mark up the front face, then cut the mitre, by mistake. Either make sure the bar-code is visible on the side you are marking or lightly scribble on the back with pencil to stop this happening.

Other posts in this series (Mounting and Finishing Photographs)
Part 1 - Introduction
Part 2 - Preparation
Part 3 - Mount Cutting
Part 4 - Final Assembly
Part 5 - Framing
Part 6 - Equipment
Part 7 - Conclusion

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Mounting and Finishing Photographs - Part 2 (Prepration)

The advantages of always working to a standard size is that it speeds up my processes immensely.

When I get a box of foam board & a pack of mountboard delivered, the first thing I do is spend a short while cutting them all down to my standard size, then pop them back into the box for storage. I have my mount cutter pre-marked with the standard sizes I use, this speeds things up and I even have two cutting blades (one for foamboard & one for mountboard) so I don't have to reset the blades.

A few seconds saved looking for the exact position.

On the foamboard (which is used to provide the backing to the picture) I use the mountcutter and a pencil to draw a line at 2.5 inches in from the bottom and one 2.5 inches from the side. If you place a sheet of Super A3 against these lines it is completely centred..magic!

Its a good idea to prepare a clear clean work space in which to work as mountboard can take up a lot of space. A large table makes an ideal work surface but in addition I also need room to store prints that are drying, mounts that are in progress and a storage space for tools. Even if I only used the area the day before, I always take the time to dust all the work surfaces as working with white board means dust can mark the face of the boards all too easily.

A habit I adopt is to regularly change the blades on the cutter, as soon as they become slow or "snaggy" I replace them. Blades are a lot cheaper than mountboard.

Other posts in this series (Mounting and Finishing Photographs)
Part 1 - Introduction
Part 2 - Preparation
Part 3 - Mount Cutting
Part 4 - Final Assembly
Part 5 - Framing
Part 6 - Equipment
Part 7 - Conclusion

Monday, 8 October 2007

Mounting and Finishing Photographs - Part 1 (Introduction)

Most of my pictures are sold as mounted prints and I usually do the mounting myself. Please Note: Rather than "mount", my American friends tend to use the term "mat" . I use the terms interchangeably - I'm like that. I also work exclusively in metric apart from for picture framing where inches just seems easier!

I print all my images on Epson Archival paper using an Epson 2100 with genuine Epson inks, this combination is supposed* to have a life of 75 years without fading., which I think is a good thing if you are selling your photos. Images are sized to 11" x 17" (well at least one of those two dimensions) and printed on super A3 paper (19" x 13"). Finally I mount all my images to a finished size of 18"x24". This gives a rather pleasing minimal mount of 3 inches with a half inch of clear paper before the image.

*honestly, how do they know - the printers only 3 years old!

Prints for Sale at my last gig!

In the next few blogs I will be covering the process I go through to produce my matted limited edition prints for sale. I will cover Preparation, Mount Cutting, Finishing and Equipment.

Other posts in this series (Mounting and Finishing Photographs)
Part 1 - Introduction
Part 2 - Preparation
Part 3 - Mount Cutting
Part 4 - Final Assembly
Part 5 - Framing
Part 6 - Equipment
Part 7 - Conclusion

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

EditorKeys - Photoshop keyboard review.

I'm running out of space in my brain, every day more and more trivia fills it up, I'm worried that if I keep learning stuff it'll push out the important stuff and I'll forget where I live or my wife's name!

It's amazing the complete tosh in there, from my days (many years ago) working in PC support I still remember such trivia as how to get a pound sign on lotus 123 release 1 (Alt + F1 L = if you are interested...I know your not) and what all the error numbers on an HP Laserjet 4 mean! With rubbish like that in there it won't be long before my brain just packs up from storing too much useless information.

The thing is, a large complicated product like Photoshop is just much easier to use if you know the shortcut keys. But you have to remember those keys and there is just no space left in my head to remember them all. So I decided I needed a photoshop keyboard to save on all that brain space and leave me room to remember where I left the car keys! The problem with this idea is that these are really only aimed at desktop PCs or Macs and I wanted to use them on my Dell Laptop.

So I decided to try EditorsKeys which is a set of sticky labels you can put on the top of your existing keyboard - ideal for laptop users. The stickers cost nine of the queens pounds, so I placed my order and the goods arrived the next day...brilliant!

Well the good news is that the stickers work well, this is not the cheap or shoddily made product that the word "stickers" conjurers up. Application is easy: first clean the keyboard with the supplied cleaner and then with the help of their neat little applicator thingy stick the labels on to your keyboard.

One small issue occurs if you have a laptop: many of the laptops functions are accessed by various special key combinations which are usually marked on the key tops. If you put a sticker over them you lose the indicator of how to change those laptop functions. So you need to decide if the laptop functions are more important than the Photoshop functions...looks like you can't get away without remembering something!

In use, they do exactly what they say on the tin and speed things up as you can find keys really quickly and easily.

As for downsides, first all your keyboard colours have changed - it's still taking me a while to get used to the shock when I look down at the keyboard! To be fairyou should really expect that though! Occasionally the edges of the stickers slightly catch my fingers as I am typing which is a bit irritating but is already starting to disappear with a bit of use.

The thing I have realised I would want from EditorsKeys is an extra sticker/card covering a lot of the other commonly used shortcuts that are got at via the ctrl & alt keys. There is not room on the keyboard to show them all but I would like to have them readily to hand as these are even harder to remember.

I would recommend EditorKeys as they work well and are a great talking point when you open your laptop.

If you would like to try to remember some useful Photoshop shortcuts why not take a look at these two links:
Photoshop Shortcuts
More Photoshop shortcuts

Monday, 1 October 2007

Cheryl Surry is Photographer of the Month for October

Hardly a month goes by when I don't open one of the many UK photography magazines to find an informative article or stunning image by Cheryl Surry in it. Her stunning nature photography leaps from the page and it's difficult not to think "I wish I had taken that" when you see her beautiful and technically perfect images.

Barn Owl on Sign
by Cheryl Surry

Her website is well worth a visit and if you do want to take shots like this she even runs very reasonably priced workshops in mid-Wales.

Previous Photographers of the Month